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In re Termination of Parental Rights to KGS

Supreme Court of Wyoming

January 11, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF THE TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS TO KGS, a Minor Child: RGS, Appellant (Respondent),
v.
STATE OF WYOMING, DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY SERVICES, Appellee (Petitioner).

         Appeal from the District Court of Uinta County The Honorable Joseph B. Bluemel, Judge

          Representing Appellant: Monica J. Vozakis, Long Reimer Winegar Beppler LLP, Evanston, Wyoming.

          Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Attorney General; Misha Westby, Deputy Attorney General; Jill E. Kucera, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Wendy S. Ross, Senior Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Ms. Ross.

          Guardian Ad Litem: Dan S. Wilde, Deputy Director and Aaron S. Hockman, Permanency Attorney, Wyoming Guardian Ad Litem Program.

          Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.

          BURKE, CHIEF JUSTICE.

         [¶1] Appellant, RGS, appeals from the district court's order terminating his parental rights. He claims there was insufficient evidence to support the district court's decision and that he was denied due process of law. We affirm.

         ISSUES

         [¶2] Appellant presents the following issues:

1. Did the district court err in terminating Father's parental rights pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 14-2-309(a)(iii)?
2. Did the district court err in terminating Father's parental rights pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 14-2-309(a)(v)?
3. Were Father's due process rights violated?

         FACTS

         [¶3] Appellant is the father of KGS, born in Utah in 2003. KGS's mother had additional children with different fathers, including KGS's older sister, HLL, with whom KGS has lived since her birth. Mother's parental rights to all of her children have previously been terminated. We affirmed termination of Mother's parental rights to KGS and HLL in In re HLL, 2016 WY 43, 372 P.3d 185 (Wyo. 2016). Parental rights to HLL are not at issue in this appeal.

         [¶4] Appellant and Mother separated in 2004, when KGS was nine months old. After the separation, Mother moved to Evanston, Wyoming with KGS and HLL. Upon learning of the move, the Utah Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) asked Wyoming's Department of Family Services (Department) to follow up with the family and offer services. Mother declined the Department's offer of services.

         [¶5] From 2004 to 2008, Appellant had regular visitation with KGS in Evanston and, occasionally, at his home in Harrisville, Utah, eighty miles away. In 2008, law enforcement removed KGS from Mother's care after Mother physically abused her. Appellant requested that KGS be placed with him. In response, the Department, pursuant to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), requested that the Utah DCFS evaluate the suitability of placement with Appellant. The Utah DCFS completed its study, and denied ...


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